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Definition of an elite athlete?

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Simon Spooner, Jan 7, 2011.


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    In another thread Dana (the person who works for IBM and jogs in his spare time), wrote:

    When we talk of averages we (I) first think of a distribution curve, with the mean sitting within it and standard deviations of that mean sitting either side. So, to define an average runner, one would be happy with taking the distance of the running event, collecting data for finishing times for said event, calculating a mean, and looking at the distributions about that mean. If a runner falls near to the mean and (probably) within one standard deviation of the mean, then they be average, right?

    So an elite athlete is one who sits to the left hand side of the first standard deviation for the mean time, or are they better still?

    I guess an average runner, is not an elite runner, so first we might want to define what an elite athlete is? Not as easy as one may think...What is the definition of an elite athlete in the London (or any big city) marathon?

    Or was Kevin using the word "average" as an adjective, to mean "typical; common; ordinary"? Maybe so.
  2. I believe I used the word recreational runner to describe Dana, which he is. I don't think I used the word "average" as he has suggested. I'm with you, Simon. Between Dennis, Ed and now Dana, I'm definitely not feeling the love anymore. Maybe it's time to take a break from Podiatry Arena? I'm sure that everyone can live just fine without me.
  3. Is it that time? Is our work here now done?.........
  4. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    I suppose I could go back and find the earlier posts where you used average but that would be a waste of time. I don't know what a recreational runner is either, but don't bother defining it, I don't care and I won't be reading your response. Simon wrote that I jog, whatever that means, but again, who cares?

    The net of all of this is that the running shoe companies are developing and marketing far more models of light weight performance shoes. I am grateful for that and whatever is said on this forum really doesn't matter and won't change a thing in the shoe industry or what the running community thinks.

    Kevin, this is your sandbox, hang around and enjoy yourself. :empathy:

    I'll be the one to take a break. It certainly won't be hard to find better ways to use my time. Bye and good luck.

  5. Aidan Hobbs

    Aidan Hobbs Active Member

    I think wearing performance racing flats makes a runner elite as a $10,000, 6.4kg race bike makes a Sunday morning coffee ride cyclist elite.

    A quick google search reveals "Elite runner" is used to describe many different people:
    • Olympic qualifiers
    • Overweight runners who persevere against adversity
    • Oprah, Pdiddy and Lance Armstrong
    • Sub 2.15 marathon runners
    • Sub 4hr marathon runners
    • Ultra runners

    My definition would be:
    "A runner whose reputation is capable of generating fear in the minds of other competitors on the start line of a well known race."

    (Sorry Oprah...)
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
  6. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    To me the term 'elite athlete' is more of a marketing term than anything. Its relationship to performance is intentionally left hazy.

    If adding the word 'elite' to the name of an athlete, event or meeting, increases media coverage, status, prestige and ultimately income, then the word is being used with sufficient accuracy for 'those who count'?

    Bill Donaldson
  7. I have a memorable story to share in regard to the term "elite athlete" from my days as an undergraduate Animal Physiology student at the University of California at Davis.

    During my senior year (1978-1979), I decided to take as many graduate courses in Exercise Physiology as I could since Exercise Physiology was my original area of interest when I entered UCD. The course I was taking at the time, "Envirionmental Effects on Physical Performance" was taught by my cross-country coach at UCD, William Adams, PhD, who was a world-renowned researcher in altitude and ozone exercise physiology and a former competetive long distance runner himself.

    Even though I was the only undergraduate student in the graduate class, I still asked plenty of questions during class, most of which Dr. Adams found to be rather elementary and superficial. During one of his classes, he mentioned the term "elite athlete" several times during his lecture on exercise performance at altitude.

    Since I didn't know what Dr. Adams' definition for "elite athlete" was, I raised my hand in class and asked "What is an elite athlete"? Without any delay, Dr. Adams said, "Well, Kevin, you are not an elite athlete." The other 15 graduate students in the class all got a good laugh out of that one....at my expense.

    Dr. Adams went on to say, that for the marathon, an "elite athlete" would be any athlete able to run sub 2:17 in the marathon. Since he knew that I had only run a 2:32 marathon at that time, Dr. Adams certainly was right that I wasn't an elite athlete. However, one of the Exercise Physiology graduate students I trained with, Ed Schlegle, did run a 2:18 marathon in 1978 to win the National Championship Marathon that same year.

    Certainly, for the marathon, I wouldn't consider any marathon time over 2:20 to be an elite performance. However, 2:17 and below certainly seems to be an elite level performance to me. The definition of the elite athlete will obviously be very dependent on the viewpoint of the researcher being asked the question and is not set in stone.
  8. Jonathan

    Jonathan Active Member

    A few years back I had a guy who worked for me and could run a sub 27 min 10K (on a track). In England he would be an Elite Athlete but back home (Kenya) he wasn't. His name was Bob Kenio the son of legend Kip.

    He didn't run barefoot either
  9. dougpotter

    dougpotter Active Member

    If Dana has finished Leadville he's not only an elite runner, but an elite athlete.
  10. Elite is all in the eye of the beholder the problem in my mind is that´s elite, legend, great are all words which get used too easily.

    Jonathans example is a great one.

    Doug while finishing leadville is a great achievement it does not make anyone elite, just fit and slightly crazy (in a good way) winning mutiple may. in my option
  11. Shon Grosse

    Shon Grosse Welcome New Poster

  12. Tim VS

    Tim VS Active Member

    I think UK athletics base it on time over distance,e.g. in my club you can't enter the cross country series unless your time is below a certain figure over 5 and 10k distance.

  13. markjohconley

    markjohconley Well-Known Member

    Should title be "Definition of an elite runner"

    A "Defensive Tackle", or a "Snowboarder", or even a "Dart"s player could be an "elite athlete" if the best in the world, no?

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